Although hospitality has always been a more traditional industry, the pandemic has accelerated tech adoption and the conversation about digital transformation, specifically automation, has heated up. Let’s look at all you need to know about automation, and why it could be a great addition to your business.
Why is automation necessary to the hospitality industry ?
- Customer expectations. Our global community has seen wide-scale digital uptake in the last 18 months, and many aspects of automation are now part of our everyday lives – Think about repeating alarms and reminders on your phone, or smart homes where lights or heat turn on and off at certain times. Many other industries have already adopted automation into their processes, like self-service kiosks at supermarkets or online check-ins at airports. More people are expecting the same facilities at hotels.
- Leaner resources – The pandemic has left many hotels running on leaner teams and budgets, having to do more with less. It has encouraged many businesses to consider new types of technology, which can increase efficiency at their organizations.
- Increased competitiveness – The landscape has become increasingly competitive and so an increased level of efficiency and quality are even more of a priority than before.
What does automation mean for hotels?
For hospitality, automation can mean a few things:
- Relieving manual or repetitive processes: Automation signals the introduction of technology or automatic rules to a previously manual and repetitive process. It allows you to take out the legwork of any task. For a hotel this could be automating a ticketing system, installing a chatbot to answer and escalate guest queries and requests, or setting up automated outbound communication.
- Machine-level reliability: Apart from being more efficient, introducing automation also means introducing machine-level reliability in your processes. Where a human might make an error, a machine will not – as long as it is programmed correctly.
- Handling large data sets: Automation can also help assess huge data sets, so you can spot and track trends at a large scale. But automating these systems also gives you better visibility on where to improve and where to adapt your processes.
What should I consider when automating processes within my hotel’s operation?
Firstly, it is important to find the right balance between human intervention and automated processes. There are many ways you can automate your operations, but it does not mean that you need to automate everything at once. Going at it step by step, and making sure everything is well-implemented and functional, allows your team to get familiar with new processes and procedures.
Remember, also to be flexible towards your guests and offer them choice. For example, when you implement a chatbot, you always need to have the option to be referred to a live agent for those requests which are too complex or for those guests who don’t feel comfortable speaking to a bot.
Thirdly, look for technology that is flexible and scalable. What does that mean? That any technology that is implemented today needs to adaptable to the needs of your organization now, but also in the future. It also means that we need to look for technologies that can easily integrate. As we are introducing more and more technologies into our processes, that we need to ensure that they all stay connected. This will reduce the risk of information silos but also ensure a seamless experience for staff, and even guests.
And lastly, if your staff isn’t engaged with your new tech stack, then your automation project won’t be a success either. How to get your staff engaged?
- Give as many people as possible access to the platform, recreate your organizational structure so that you can streamline existing processes.
- Reduce noise and make sure that your staff only has access to the information they need, by sending out relevant reports and alerts only to the relevant people.
- Remember that it is normal for your staff to be wary towards these new technologies as they might perceive them as a threat. Try to make it clear to them how automation will help them and what the objectives are.
It’s good to keep in mind that automation for hotels doesn’t mean is replacing human service by robots. Technology is not here to replace anyone, but to offer support and enhance guest service. It also doesn’t mean forcing your guests into using their phone and applications if they are not comfortable with that. The idea is to offer choice, so guests can choose to do their online check-in on their phone, or with the assistance from the front desk staff. Hospitality is and will always be about delivering a great and exceptional service.
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